Action not words. That was my message last night when I met with the Immigration Minister Chris Philp along with a number of other Conservative MPs. I was invited as one of the MPs who has repeatably raised concerns about illegal channel crossings we’ve been seeing over the past few months. I one hundred percent share the same concerns as the majority of my constituents. This was a significant meeting and I feel confident that there is a solid plan to deal with the issue, for the first time since this really shot up the news agenda there is a real prospect of the issue being nipped in the bud in the not too distant future.
New legislation is likely soon to reform our failing asylum system (likely to be furiously opposed by Labour) as is robust action to stop the channel crossings in their tracks. I am limited in terms of the specific information I can reveal at this time but more will be announced by the Government soon. People are right to be extremely frustrated by the situation but I am confident that action is on the way. I feel significant compassion towards genuine refugees and its right that we have a process in place to legally accept those fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries. But under no circumstances should we accept these illegal crossings where the individuals in question are coming from other safe European countries, not war torn countries.
Today I asked an urgent question to Home Office ministers about illegal channel crossings and to call for urgent legislation to get a grip of our easily exploited asylum system. Illegal migrants know that once they’re in our asylum system, the chances are they’ll be able to stay for good and this is a major reason why they continue to put their lives at risk to come here.
We must close ridiculous legal loopholes like those that allow failed asylum seekers to make repeated claims on entirely new grounds and avoid deportation. And end the unacceptable situation where tax payers’ money is spent on legal aid to support people who have broken our laws claim asylum. Over the last few months, I’ve been working with other Conservative MPs in the Common Sense Group to keep up the pressure on the Government on this issue by writing joint letters and meeting with the Home Secretary. And now Parliament has returned it’s important to continue this in the Chamber. I was glad to hear today that the Government is developing legislation to close these loopholes. This can’t come soon enough for many of my constituents who like me find the current situation unfair and unacceptable. And I’ll be monitoring developments very closely.
It was also disappointing today to see Labour accuse the Government of militarising the problem in the Channel and lacking compassion. This demonstrates how completely out of touch the Party has become with the law-abiding majority. And the real lack of compassion comes from those who defend the status quo, where migrants from safe European countries are incentivised to make dangerous crossings. And where our asylum system isn’t geared towards the most needy genuine asylum seekers around the world who want to come here legally.
I went on BBC Radio Suffolk this afternoon to talk about the unacceptable surge in illegal channel crossings and the letter I sent with 22 other Conservative MPs calling on the Home Secretary to take action so that illegal migrants are immediately returned.
I like many am completely fed up with the lawlessness in the Channel and the slap in the face it represents to the law-abiding people of this country and genuine asylum seekers who wish to come to this country legally. All of those who try to come here illegally across the Channel have left a safe European Country to do so and there is absolutely no justification for them to break our laws to get to the UK.
As we set out in our letter, action, not words, is what is needed now. It’s been over four years since we voted to take back control of our borders but our hands are still tied by EU and international rules which don’t allow us to put the people of this country first.
It is good that after the letter we sent, the Prime Minister has said we need to look at changing the law and efforts are underway to get the French to do more. But I’m also clear that our ability to control our borders must not be dependent on the whim of France or any other third country. We must be prepared to turn all illegal boats around and escort them back to France. These dangerous crossings will only stop when we have made it completely clear that all attempts will be futile as the Australians did when they were confronted with a similar problem.
I’ll keep working with other MPs to secure swift action and ensure this issue is treated with the seriousness it deserves and the public expects.